Vanuatu Provincial Elections Preliminary Results: No Woman Elected

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19th February, 2013

[Mr. Avio Roberts, Vanua’aku Pati (VP) Program & Information Officer says women candidates for provincial council elections are commanding more confidence from both men and women voters – citing what he views to be healthy vote totals for women in several constituencies. With no women actually elected, however, the actual representation of women in decision-making roles on the provincial councils is not improved.]

By Kathie Simon – Vanuatu Daily Post, February 19, 2013

As if the 2012 General Elections did not sufficiently amplify the statement, the provincial elections in all the four provinces of TafeaShefaMalampa and Penamaagain failed to elect a female candidate as per the unofficial results of the election.

Vanua’aku Pati (VP) which fielded the highest number of female candidates in the 12 February Provincial Elections could not secure a seat for the women candidates.

“VP fielded five women candidates, and apart from candidate Monique Ben who beat all the men folks to grab 115 votes which is the highest votes by a candidate in the polling station (Onesua Polling station), none of the women candidates won a seat in the recent provincial election,” confirmed Avio Roberts, VP’s Program & Information Officer.

Mr. Roberts said another female candidate who fared well in the provincial elections-VP’s Ambrym candidate, Lala Lan lost out on securing a seat in the MalampaProvincial council with 100 plus votes as per unofficial results of the provincial election.

Meriam Takau who contested the Vanuatu Democratic Party (VDP) in the Efate constituency polled a handsome 197 votes between Erakor and Enam polling stations, however, still not sufficient to win a seat in the next Shefa Provincial Council.

Another prominent woman candidate who contested the provincial election in Epi constituency, Frida Varasmaite produced healthy polling figures also bowed out of the race as per the unofficial results.

Asked if there is a greater chance for women leaders to be elected into provincial councils, Mr. Roberts agree the unofficial results proved the point.

“The results of the provincial elections proved that most of the women candidates that stood in the recent provincial elections have greater chances of getting elected to provincial councils,” he said.

“We all must understand that the votes the women candidates are getting are form both gender, which goes to show that women candidates are commanding more confidence from political parties and to be selected through the party structures ahead of the men folks to contest.

”And if anything, contesting an election on a level playing field with the folks is the best way forward in mainstreaming gender equity in politics and decision making, as compared to the argument of reserved women seats.”

Official results of the provincial elections are expected to be out soon.

By Kathie Simon – Vanuatu Daily Post, February 19, 2013

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How many women will make it through the Provincial Elections?

(Vanuatu Daily Post February 15, 2013, Local News) — Women in Vanuatu are eager to know the results of the Provincial Elections held in the four Provinces of Vanuatu on Tuesday February 12. Despite many programs advocating and promoting the advancement of women as well as their rights into the political arena, the turn out of the elections indicated that our communities and societies do not support women into Political arena, there may be a few reasons why women who contested the elections do not make it through, after the National General Elections on 30th of October,2012, not one of the 17 female contestants throughout the country made it through to Parliament.

All this clearly demonstrated that the best way to mentor women into decision making bodies or roles, is to use some form of Quota systems whereby women will be given some Reserve seats , so that they will be able to build their confidence and then they can then be able to contest using the democratic systems, of course men sometimes do not like the idea because they felt that this type of systems discriminates the men, however we must consider that the Vanuatu Government has ratified CEDAW in 1995, with the aim of eliminating all forms of Discriminations against women, and if women were not given an opportunity to be actively involved in Politics, then that is not fair and they we are discriminated against in the political arena.

Even women themselves are not confident to come out in public to participate in Politics, because they were seen as the family care takers, and that their roles cannot be done by other family members.

After independence we have a couple of women that were Politicians, namely Hilda Lini, Maria CrowbyLeinavau Tasso , Isabele Donald and Eta Rory , if after 30 years of Independence the country only has five (5) females that were elected into parliament, then this means that all the stake holders and the Department of women’s affairs must put in more effort to address this issue.

And women themselves must come out more openly to indicate their willingness to participate, and women must understand that voting women into such positions it will mean that your voice can be heard.

The Government through the Department of Women’s Affair’s will soon be doing consultations in partnership with the Law Reforms to come up with some types of Quotas to be used as a Temporary measures to get more women to participate actively in Decision Making Bodies as well as the political arenas. If women are seen as best managers in their homes, then there is no reason why they could not perform to the best of their abilities, if they were given a National role.

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Will Shefa polls today achieve gender equality?
February 13, 2013

(Vanuatu Daily Post – Features, By Samuel LJ) — As ShefaTafeaMalampa and Penama goes into the polls today, the biggest challenge for Shefa is whether Shefa will achieve its gender equality policy by electing at least a female councilor from the four (4) constituencies within Shefa.

Shefa Province adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in May 2004 and Shefa rural women took leading role in managing their activities and to implement articles under CEDAW especially articles 7 and 14. Shefa Provincial Government Council through Women’s Desk carried out different activities in social and economic within many women group and communities within Shefa.

These are the activities undertaken by Shefa in relation to Gender Equality. Shefa was the first to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Children living with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the rights of the Child (CRC). Shefa conducted Awareness Training for Councilors and Staff on the provisions of CEDAW. There was also training on BRIDGE- Building Resources in Democracy Governance & Election. Shefa went one step further by establishing the ShefaWomen’s Office. Women were represented in the Full Council by the nominated representative. There were also awareness exercises for women representation as elected councilor in Area Council & Communities and political parties. The council strongly supports women as best managers in their respective households.

However, despite all the efforts by the last Shefa Provincial Council administration under the leadership of Hon. Lami Sope, it is sad to state that in the last 2012 General Elections, it was very disturbing to note the low number of votes casted for women candidates throughout the fours (4) Constituencies within Shefa. One might say that those are the votes for the National Parliament and would not impact on the polls today. However, I personally think that the voting culture of 2012 would be the same for 2013.

It would be interesting to look at the number of male and female registered voters in 2011 and later on compare the figures with the votes casted for women candidates within three (3) of the four (4) constituencies in 2012. Efate constituency would not be looked at because it has a mixture of a lot of voters from different constituencies living in south Efate within the periphery of Port Vila and its surrounding villages.

Generally, in Shefa constituencies of EpiTongoa and Shepherds Outer Islands, the number of registered male and female voters in 2011 was very interesting.

For instance, when one looks at Tongoa Constituency in 2011, there were a total of 868 males and 956 females. Males represent 47.6% and females represent 52.4% . Refer to Figure 1 below.

In 2012, there were 1967 registered voters so it can be estimated that there were 936 males and 1,031 female voters on Tongoa in 2012. However when one looks at the total number of total votes received by the only female candidate on Tongoa in 2012, her total votes only represent a mere 3.6% of the total registered voters on Tongoa in 2012.

Have a look at Shepherds Outer Island. In 2011, there are 986 registered voters and Males represent 50.1% and females represent 49.8%. Refer to figure 2.

In 2012, there were a total of 1,058 registered voters. This would mean that there may be approximately 531 males and 527 females. Similarly when one looks at the total votes casted for the only female candidate in 2012, her votes represent a mere 0.4% of the total votes cast and also represents 0.6% of the total registered female voters in that Constituency. Epi itself has a very strong precedent on women representation in the national parliament.

However, it would be interesting to see if that can be repeated in the provincial level. Figure 3 below shows the percentage of votes received by women candidates in 2012.

By 4:30pm today, the people of Shefa would have some idea on who are their local representatives and it would be interesting to see if at least one woman is elected from each of the four constituencies into the council

If there are no women voted into Shefa or any of the other three (3) provincial councils, these may be the reasons:
(a) The obstacles for women to enter political leadership as outlined on Saturday’s paper are alive and vibrant within our societies;
(b) The decision by Shefa was a good initiative but it lacked political commitment at the local village level in terms of support and at the national level in terms of political Will and policy;
(c) The voting culture of the people has not changed; because
(d) There was a lack of awareness and education in the communities.

What would be the way forward for this initiative that Shefa has taken the lead:
(a) A national policy decision should be made by the Provincial Councils with the administrative support of the Department of Local Authorities for a change or amendment to the provincial council’s election rules and be driven by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Department of Local Authorities;
(b) All provincial administrations should advocate for the establishment of Temporary Special Measures to assist women to enter political leadership in provincial councils;
(c) The Ministry of Internal Affairs should not been seen as a lone driver but support should be provided by the six (6) provincial councils, the Department of Women’s Affairs and Ministry of Justice and Social Welfare and the Department of Local Authorities and the Electoral Office and Commission.

To conclude, I would like to state that change always comes with challenges and there would be a lot of challenges to any change that is likely to disturb the usual norm of leadership. As Shefa has taken some steps, it would be encouraging to see the new Council take the same positive attitude with a high energy level, be resilient, creative and see a big picture. I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the outgoing Chairman, Lami Sope and the Secretary General, Mr. Michel Kalworai in their high regard for gender equality issues within the Shefa Provincial Council Administration.

>>The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and are not necessarily those of the Vanuatu Daily Post

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28 Parties To Contest Provincial Elections In Vanuatu: 274 candidates, including 12 women, vie for provincial seats

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 3, 2013) – A total of 28 political parties and groupings in Vanuatu are being represented in this month’s provincial elections in PenamaMalampaShefa and Tafea. There are 274 candidates everyone – 12 women and 262 men running for office in the elections on Tuesday, February 12.

Independents head the list with the most number of candidates with 55 candidates, followed by the Vanua’aku Party with 31.

Union of Moderate Party and Reunification of Movement for Change are next both have 24 candidates each followed by the National United Party with 20 candidates.

Of the 12 women standing for election, Shefa Province has 10 of them, the highest number of the other three provinces going to the polls this month. Malampaand Tafea have one woman candidate each while Penama Province has no woman candidate.

And of the ten women candidates in Shefa Province, six women are standing for the election in Efate constituency.

On Emae there are two candidates, Tongoa has one and Epi also one woman candidate. There is one woman candidate on Malekula for Malampa and one on Tanna for Tafea provincial elections.

After the second declaration of the names of approved candidates by the Electoral Commission on January 24, two days after the main list of names was released, Penama now has a total of 50 candidates contesting 16 seats in the Provincial Government Council.

Malampa has 21 seats and there are 69 candidates running for election. 96 candidates are contesting 18 seats in Shefa Provincial Government Council, and in Tafea 64 candidates are standing for election for 18 seats in that Provincial Government Council.

Meanwhile, political campaigning is in progress in all the four provinces and will close on February 8, before the polls on February 12.

Vanuatu Daily Post: via PIDP Pacific Islands Report

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